In its early stages, the Settle for Biden campaign was just a group of four students who had attended Glenbrook South together and a few others from across the country texting in a group chat and creating memes to post for their few hundred Instagram followers. Since then, the campaign has gained international recognition and amassed approximately 290,000 followers on Instagram. Even after accomplishing its initial goal of helping elect Joe Biden as president, the campaign still has more planned.
“We’re not going anywhere,” said Sam Weinberg, founder and executive director of Settle for Biden, in a video conference. “We still have a lot to accomplish.”
Weinberg, who attended GBS from 2015 to 2018, started the campaign because many of his friends said they would not vote for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. With this mindset among voters, Weinberg said he thought it would be “very easy” to see Trump winning re-election.
“The goal was to say to progressives, ‘Hey, you don’t have to agree with someone 100 percent of the time in order to vote for them,’” said Weinberg. “‘It’s okay to compromise some policy ideas … for the good of the nation and to make progress possible.’”
In addition to encouraging progressives to vote for Biden rather than not voting at all, the campaign co-hosted virtual phone banking sessions and posted videos discussing Biden and the election.
GBS alumna Sabina Roberts (‘19), director of research for Settle for Biden, said in a video conference that even people who are not political or extremely informed about politics follow the Settle for Biden Instagram because of its entertaining and engaging way of discussing politics. The campaign often posts memes and supplements informative posts with original graphics.
The Settle for Biden campaign has come up in some of the team members’ political science classes at school, Roberts said. She also heard the campaign’s name in a stranger’s conversation once while walking down the street.
“[That’s] so crazy to me, it’s like — that’s us,” said Roberts. “That’s something that we started [as] just a few kids … and became something that’s a household name and a phrase that’s been popularized.”
As of December, the Settle for Biden campaign is focusing its content on the Senate runoff election in Georgia and making sure the Biden administration’s cabinet picks are as progressive as possible. On its Instagram, the campaign posted its own recommendations for Biden’s cabinet and has shared information about Biden’s cabinet picks and how the organization feels about them.
Glenbrook North senior Fiona O’Sullivan said in a video conference that she appreciates the Settle for Biden campaign posting on social media about Biden’s cabinet picks among other topics because many people do not do their own research.
“When you scroll through social media and you see, ‘Okay, here’s a rundown and here’s a centered piece of information’ — I do think that’s beneficial,” O’Sullivan said.
According to Weinberg, the Settle for Biden campaign has also encouraged its followers to contact their senators and members of the Biden-Harris Agency Review Teams regarding Biden’s cabinet picks. Weinberg had conversations with two separate members of the Biden-Harris Agency Review Teams to lobby for progressive cabinet picks. Both conversations were “positive” and “productive,” and Weinberg is confident the Agency Review Teams are taking progressive perspectives into account.
On Inauguration Day, the Settle for Biden team plans to launch a new, “more formal” organization, hopefully with a greater degree of lobbying and on-the-ground activism such as demonstrations or meeting with lawmakers, Weinberg said.
Comprised of many of the same team members, the new organization will focus on not only holding the Biden administration accountable for promises made during the campaign, but pushing them a step further. To Weinberg, that means pressing the administration to take progressive executive action beyond what the Biden administration promised, such as pushing the Biden administration to work towards Medicare for All rather than only building on The Affordable Care Act, he said.
The Settle for Biden campaign also plans to divert some of its attention to American politics as a whole and to promoting “accessibility to democracy,” Weinberg said.
“We’re gonna be talking about abolishing the electoral college, getting rid of gerrymandering [and] ending voter suppression,” said Weinberg. “And then the other way that we have to make politics more accessible is for it to be more digestible and easy for people to comprehend. And so we’re gonna be putting stuff out that’s really just meant to explain politics and policy in a way that’s easy to digest but also not oversimplified.
“The overarching goal of our new organization is to hold politicians to their promises and to make politics accessible to every American. And that’s something that everyone should be able to get behind.”